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Learning: 2. Becoming an Artist

Mon Mar 1, 2010, 1:49 PM


2. Becoming an Artist

Of course it's one thing to be an artist and to want to communicate with pictures, but quite another to follow through on that commitment. That's what this lesson is about, before we actually begin learning to see. Becoming an artist is about that moment you realized the urge to scribble and make pictures was not going to leave you alone. When you decided to stop looking at pictures and begin making them yourself. When you began to go to bed later and later because you couldn't put your brushes away. When you began to dream of your next drawing. Becoming an artist is a hugely transformative decision, which most of you have already made. It removes you from the common flow of humanity, gives you a reason to live, a sense of completeness and a desire to improve. Suddenly you begin to think about what you look at. I suspect you are now so used to it, you have forgotten how rare this way of looking at the world really is. But it is different from just looking at something and knowing it is there. A cat crawls into your field of vision.

Jia Lu Cat
My late cat Picasso
Before you start sneezing uncontrollably and burst into hives, you note its geometry, the black glossiness of its fur against the blacker darkness of its shadow, the way its rear leg sticks out like a coathook, and how it looks at you like it wants to say something but knows you wouldn't understand anyway. And you start to think, "I need a cat just like that in the corner of my latest picture," as you rummage through your purse or pockets, not for an antihistamine like any other sane person trying to save her life, but for your pencil and sketchbook.

Becoming alert to the visual qualities of the things you look at is the first stage in becoming an artist. Before we can talk about light and shadow, color and volume, we have to train our eyes to see and our minds to think about what we see. Seeing takes time and thought and above all, practice. Seeing is a kind of meditation, a way of connecting the outer world to your inner world.

To paraphrase a Chinese expression, "You look at a mountain and see it is a mountain. Then you look at a mountain and see it is not a mountain. Finally you look at a mountain and see you are the mountain." Very Zen. There are many ways to look at something and because the mind of an artist is nimble and alive, it sees what others can't. I live close to the San Gabriel mountains in California. Most of the time I can see them hovering there, but if I take my time I note their jaggedness, their color filtered by the air and the sunlight gleaming through the LA smog, their slopes smudged by clouds, and how they are not the same mountains that I saw yesterday, but a brand new arrangement of forms and textures and hue. I've looked at them so often, in so many conditions, that they have become a part of me, a piece of my internal world, a feature in my dreams, a symbol of my determination to finish this painting in front of me. I am transformed by what I see, because I think about it as an artist.

So we come to the second most important secret about art I can share: the way you think about what you see will transform you.

Jia Lu Papercut
Yes, that's me with a papercut
In fact, I never wanted to be an artist when I was a child. My father was an artist and who wants to do what her father does for a living? So uncool. When I was eight what I really wanted was to be Mao Zedong. You know, the Great Chairman. Gets to review the May Day parades. Waves to the People. Lifts millions out of poverty. I was always a hard-working student, proud of my high efforts, and I thought the pursuit of excellence would naturally lead straight to the top. When I was old enough to understand that politics was often ugly, miserable work, I decided I wanted to be a great writer or a poet, or a teacher or actor. Then the Cultural Revolution happened and I saw what became of writers and poets, and teachers and actors. I was twelve when the schools closed and discovered I could be anything I wanted ... as long as it was a farmer, a factory worker, or a soldier. So I joined the Navy.

Jia Lu NurseJia Lu Performance
As a nurse and one of my performances
At least in the Navy I could continue my education, and I began to study medicine, play basketball, and direct stage performances with titles like: "Ping Pong Diplomacy," and "The Children Do Laundry for Their Peoples Liberation Army Uncles."
     
But when the Cultural Revolution ended and universities reopened, there were no places for kids like me whose father was an outspoken artist, and who had relatives living overseas. My family background was suspect. There were political requirements and I definitely did not meet them. I was not permitted to apply to medical school. I was not allowed to apply to film school. I was too short for professional basketball.

Jia Lu with Father
With my father
All the doors were closed. There were no art courses in the Navy, so I asked my father how he became an artist. He told me, "You don't need to go to art school. I learned to paint while fighting the Japanese during the Second World War. I was on burial detail, and I felt as if I were burying my heart beside each of my fallen friends and comrades. I turned to art as a way to keep them alive." But I wasn't allowed to leave the naval compound: how could I study? He said, "that's the benefit of being an artist. You paint what you choose from the things around you. Just look for what calls out to you and draw it." So at the age of seventeen, I turned to art as a career and a way of life. Where my paths forward seemed blocked on all sides, by turning inward to my own vision I found myself in a landscape without paths, where I could roam as widely as I chose. I clung to art like a drowning woman, and it opened my eyes to what I might become.

Jia Lu Sketching
I believe we can shape our fate, that our lives are the greatest work of art we will ever create, and that happiness and wisdom aren't found "out there" or brought to us by a lover or teacher or job or money. We create ourselves, fashion beauty out of dross, and make great art out of the stuff around us.

And it all begins by learning to see.



Homework:
Ha ha ha! You just knew it was coming didn't you? They don't call me the "torture teacher" for nothing. If you are going to be my student, you will have to do the homework. So here it is:

I want you to write in the comments about the moment you became an artist. A paragraph at least, and more if it was a complicated decision like mine. Even those of you who aren't painters. I don't care what tools you use to create your art, you're a deviant and I want to know why. Let's call it roll call, meet'n'greet, getting to know you - all teachers like to know who their students are, it helps us become better teachers.  

For those of you who are wondering: yes, this Journal is about attaining technical mastery of representational art. We'll start painting before too long, I promise, and I have a lots of professional secrets to share about how I achieve my results. I always thought technical mastery was the goal of an artistic education. How wrong can a person be? It turns out to be only the very first step on a long and fulfilling journey.


Until next time,

Love, Jia.

 
Add a Comment:
 
:iconnandale:
Nandale Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well, I´d rather call myself a doodler than an artist..not yet, at least, but I don´t think that´s what you meant by it..
As for me and art, I´d say it was about one and a half years ago, when I decided that I didn´t only want to draw, but also learn and improve and now, I couldn´t let go of it without partly going mad, because it already became a part of me..but, being only 15 years old, I´d consider myself still in the very beginning of my journey..
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:icondeaconstrucktor:
DeaconStrucktor Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Living in rural B.C. as a child, I was always accustomed to using my imagination to entertain myself, as friends lived at long distances. My brother and I always had creative toys, like Lego, that helped to promote creation. We drew and painted in pre-school and elementary school, but I think what originally made me "think of myself" as artistic or an artist was a series of stories that I wrote in elementary school (grade 4 perhaps?), short, silly little horror stories where someone usually got gobbled up by the monster at the end. They entertained my classmates and made me see that this "creative play" that I had been involved in, could be something more, something like Art - the dialogue between an artist and an audience. Not that I thought that, back then of course, I was simply pleased to have made my classmates laugh; but, thinking about this now, I'd say that was when I became an artist.
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:iconyarased:
Yarased Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2010   Photographer
The moment I became an artist was when I proudly drew on my bedroom walls with my crayons, and innocently when to everyone I knew to exhibit them, of course it got me in trouble, but my mom never painted over them, even after we moved. When I was seen as an artist for the first time in my life I was 10 years old, by my 5th grade teacher who believed I could be one and opened my eyes to so many things like my love of books and different arts. She entered me in a painting competition. However I never thought of studying arts until the very last semester of highschool where I realized I wouldn't be happy with anything other than and art major. Now I'm 20 and almost graduating, I started playing the Cello a mere 3 months ago, and I'm already on my 3rd book, I've already played in an orchestra and will have 2 concerts this month, in that sense I can only say being an artist is in my DNA, it's what I was meant to be.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
It is stories like yours, Justin, that make teachers happy to be alive! There is nothing more rewarding than to know you have helped launch a talented person on his career. I think you will get something out of this course, because we will soon be looking at some specific techniques to improve those drawing skills, as well some very particular techniques for working in oils.
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:iconsundayprism:
SundayPrism Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
When I was very young my father drew a simple truck for me. I loved it so much that I redrew it and redrew it. From then on I always drew imaginative little vehicles and creatures. Then I started drawing cartoons and fell in love with people. Throughout grade school I sketched and played with drawings but never thought to be an artist, it was just a past-time. Then, in high school, the art teacher saw my drawings and PERSONALLY bought me a set of Prismacolor pencils, encouraging me to use color. Ever since then, I have been fascinated by art and have dedicated myself to becoming a painter. My high school teacher changed my life.
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:iconraindance168:
raindance168 Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2010
I grew up in a museum. Well, that's a private joke in my family, but my mother did work at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco as a docent until I was three. Because of my mother's connection with art, I have always been exposed to my creative side. When I think back on the stories and events of my childhood, I remember my being very influenced by the paintings of Yani and her monkeys. There is also the inspiration story of Raymond Hu, who has Down's Syndrome, and his love for painting animals. I think when I was 12, I met Raymond again (I had been to his home when I was younger) because my mother was helping to put together a show that would include some of Raymond's paintings. She told me that I would draw lots of animals after the first time I saw his drawings. Being 12, and seeing his art after many years, I was definitely more critical than I should have been. But now, I look back and recognize just how beautiful his art is, and enjoy seeing his growing skill over the years.

For me, I definitely remember some pictures of animals that I was exceptionally proud of when I was younger. Horses were my favorite, since that is my zodiac animal. I mostly doodled in those days. My fifth grade teacher was the first adult who really encouraged me to take art class, especially as I moved on into middle school. Sixth through eighth grade saw a continuation of my love for drawing animals, some of which I made up for fun. Most of my art assignments involved animals, and I would draw the pictures of animals I found in books at the library. Elementary and middle school were the years I spent in the library, pouring over books, and learning whatever passed under my nose. this included art books. Whatever techniques were in those books, I read about them and learned about them, even if I didn't always put them to practice. I didn't doodle quite so much in middle school, since I was concentrating on academics. Drawing was reserved for art class, for the most part.

High school hit, and I was fully engrossed in the realm of Japanese manga. I began to drift away from animals, and started drawing people. My style tended to drift towards the style of the artists I was viewing and reading at the time. Ninth grade was a year I did very little art, since art class didn't fit into my class schedule. Tenth grade, I dove into the intermediate drawing/painting class, and fully enjoyed the experience of trying different media and completing the assignments. The summer of 2007, I entered the Anime/Manga art contest at my local library with Silent Snow and won first place. The pleasure of creating art and being recognized by others definitely encouraged me to draw more.

The fall of 2007, my junior year of high school, was the beginning of my transformation and a growling love for art. My father had just gone through treatment for prostate cancer, and I was unable to focus in school. My grades slipped continually in all my classes, except art. It was therapeutic to draw and simply forget about things for a while. Art was a place where I could escape into daydreams. My obsession with angels, hair, and floriography showed up in my art. Fantasy and beautiful, genderless, angelic beings dominated (and continue to dominate) my pieces. The frustration and depression I felt found salvation in these visions and the sudden immersion of library books about human anatomy stacked a foot high on the edge of my bed.

There was some relief in my final year of high school. My grades picked up a bit, but still nowhere near the straight-As that I was used to. I settled somewhat more comfortably into my focus, the human form. Progress continued at a steady pace.

Now I'm in my first year of college, sitting in my dorm, typing this out instead of studying for my finals this week. I'm still lacking much of the discipline that I used to have in middle school and my first two years in high school, but it's gradually coming back. I am relearning how to think, how to study how to analyze, and how to view the world around me. I still tend to draw fantasy-themed pictures, but I'm also thinking of branching out and drawing more things outside of my comfort zone. The scenery of Santa Cruz, CA begs for breathtaking landscapes. As I'm finally settling into college life and living away from the shelter of my parents' house, hopefully I'll venture out more often and draw more of what's around me. I've been blessed to be surrounded by some of the most naturally beautiful landscapes growing up, and I must learn to take advantage of the opportunities in front of me.

So as an ending summary/note, I've always been one of those kids who is "good at drawing." 11th grade was the year I started to transform into a serious artist. With a few, small, local contests under my belt, I've felt the definite urge to improve and develop my art. My concerns these days lay in the future. What is ahead? I know I will always want to paint and draw, but should I only follow my heart, or also what is logical? At the moment, I'm trying to keep my options open. I will definitely major in art, but I'm also considering a double major combination with either biology or computer science. A science or technology-related major makes sense in today's world, since that's where the money is, but my passion lies in art. I know my father is worried that I won't be able to make a living in art, and he encourages me to try and get a job in the sciences. I could paint on the side. It's logical and makes sense. There's a definite sense of security, and it's good to exercise both the strictly analytical and abstract sides of the brain. But I still have some time ahead of me before I must decide on my major(s). We will have to see where I am being led, I think.

Ahaha, that was long. I think I just shared part of my life story, which I suppose I did.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I just love getting looonnnggg comments! Thank you for sharing your development as an artist, Raindance. In reply to your question: should I follow my heart or also what is logical assumes you can't make a good living in the arts, and I think these days, especially in a place like California, that's not necessarily true. There are not a lot of very interesting or high-paying science jobs out there unless you plan to spend another seven years in a post-grad degree. Whereas all you need to start earning money in the arts is a great portfolio and the energy to show it to people who count. However, I think combining art and science is a wonderful idea. Science is filled with ideas and imagery that will continue to find their way into your work, and give you an outlook on the world that will help you stand out from the rest of the pack.
I grew up in a museum too, for my mother worked as an exhibit designer at the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Brilliant One spent nearly every weekend of his childhood in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto - so it's definitely a fertile ground for sprouting artists!
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:iconsasa333:
Sasa333 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I started drawing as I was seven...I have watched TV and saw the series of Digimon^^ till then I've drawn a lot of monsters and figures, more or less manga...I got more interested in art as I was in school and we made a project, but I don't remember what it was about. I have ever drawn with pencil, rarely with others
I stopped drawing as I was 13, don't know why anymore, last summer I get used to draw again, but more realistic.
till then I was an active member on deviantart. 2010 I got a grafiktablet, I work every day with tat thing.
my parents haven't support me ever and won't do it. They think that it's not 'realistic' to have a job where these skills are needed. School is depressing me, even the art lessons, our teacher ignore our wishes and don't teach us serious.
sometimes I'm tired of it, but I try to don't give up....
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
As artists we are beset by adversity on all sides. I believe we must thank the people who make life difficult, because they teach us to be stronger. No one can take anything from you that you are not prepared to give, and being a parent myself, I suspect your parents will not support you because they do not know or understand what you are becoming. Be gentle with them and show them the pride you take in your work. No teacher will ever grant all your wishes (no, not even me) but you are lucky that you are not stuck with one teacher. You can learn from everyone here.
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:iconsasa333:
Sasa333 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:iconicameplz: nom nom nom thx
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:iconfilosofie:
FiloSofie Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2010
It's beautiful how you have turned up at DeviantArt, discovered your community and embraced it with such grace and generosity. I deeply appreciate your art, having seen giclée prints of your paintings first in Honolulu in 2004. I love viewing paintings even more than the act of painting, and, in particular, I adore spiritual themes in art. Your craftsmanship is superb! Viewing your work is delightful. I am moved by your offer of tuition through DA.

From your earlier introduction, I learned that I need to nurture my expressiveness. Doing this homework assignment I figured out that when I'm not in denial about being an artist, I'm in the closet.

I checked & discovered that I've never posted a painting on DA. Even though I'm technically challenged, and don't rate my work highly...still!

I've been a closet martial artist and am a closet painter. Maybe the dawn of realizing I'm an artist is today.

I will pay my sub. I will post at least 2 paintings.

And I bow down to you as a teacher.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Well then, I return your bow, and happily welcome you out of the closet. I think the dawn of realizing you're an artist *is* today! Good Morning! May it be a long, happy day, Susan!
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:iconveronica-art:
Veronica-Art Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010
Jialu: Thank you so much for sharing your path.

As a young child I used to draw in my math books (in the back of them) and anything I could get my hands on. Since I`ve always been very shy and insecure, some teachers noticed I could use art to express myself... they encouraged me very young.- while I lived in the states.

Back in my home country, I wanted to study in the Consevatory of Music (violin and piano) and School of Fine arts (contemporary dance) , but my family did not support me.

I studied in a tecnical public university and finished my carres. I am tecnically a system enginner. I worked for big companies like AT&T but after many years of hard work I stopped working to have my family.

So well, after a life time, I decided to take a chance and just start drawing... using art as theraphy, since I am still quite a shy person. I am only an art student now, but I feel this need to study, learn and slowly start seeing the world through light, shadows, tones, colours, forms... it`s a new dimension... it`s like a new world. I love all kinds of art, photography, music, dance, digital, traditional...

So well, that is a little from me. Thank you again for this and sharing the beauty of your soul, art and experience.

Much love
Veronica
Quito, Ecuador
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you, Veronica! I congratulate you on rediscovering your early strengths, and I think as you gain confidence as an artist you'll find the world so much easier to confront! I went through several very deep depressions in my life, and it was art that saved me each time.
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:iconveronica-art:
Veronica-Art Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2010
I am going through very hard times now, and I am using art to fight very deep depressions and illness, to save me. I just pray to have the strenght to go on. Thank you for your love and encouragement.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
You're in my prayers, too!
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:iconveronica-art:
Veronica-Art Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2010
Thank you, from my heart :heart:
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:iconravenbell:
Ravenbell Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010
Sorry for being a little late, but I really enjoyed reading your lessons and want to join in! You have some wonderful things to say, and they are so helpful and beautifully put.

I decided I wanted to be an artist when I was 14. I wasn't particularly good in art class, although when I was in primary school I enjoyed drawing with my mum. But I always liked fantasy and wanted to create something solid from my imagined worlds.
So I kept choosing to take art each year and fell in love with drawing. But since I started studying art seriously at school, I haven't had time to do my own thing. I felt like I was just producing pretty pictures for the examiners and lost some of my love for the work. The only things I really like and enjoyed creating are my drawings.
But now I'm on a gap year, and have all the time I could want. I was in India for 4 months at the end of 2009, working as a volunteer English teacher. I did some portraits of the teachers and the people I lived with. And their reaction touched me. To them, this way of drawing realistically was like magic, and that rekindled my own wonder in the process of creating. So I think this year has been a turning point for me, a start of something new, though to be honest I only just realised it.
So thank you! Your lessons are inspiring.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
You're welcome to join anytime. That's what's so wonderful about these online lessons; they're not limited in any way. You have touched on one of the great things about realism: it *is* magical. And it is democratic too; you don't need a PhD in post-structuralism to understand it, it speaks to everyone.
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:iconiancaus2001:
Iancaus2001 Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2010
Dear Jialu,
I'm not an "artist" but I already have learnt, and will continue to learn from you. I'm a photographer. I was another "best drawer" in school, then, after joining the Australian Army at 18, I drew cartoons to complement my letters to family, and when training got so tiring and time-consuming that my 2000word letters became a task, I remembered the saying,"A picture says a thousand words." So I bought a Kodak Retinette 1a, 35mm camera. I learned to use it and found I was in demand from friends for photos to send home. Soon after posting to a Air Despatch unit, I was asked to be the Unit Photographer,(as well as my other duties)and that led to a posting to Army Public Relations, and after discharge, to newspapers, magazines, commercial photography, then TV as a cameraman in the early 70s, and finally to teaching Cine-camera at Technical College. The story gets longer, because I've been around a long time; to cut it short, I'm now in Guilin, China, teaching English, consulting and editing websites for a large travel office and learning to improve the creative/artistic side of my photography. I've got to hurry, while I can still hold a camera steady, but I learn a little more each day. I want to develop skills that I can pass on to the next generation; they will need all the help they can get, although they learn faster than my generation did. Thank you for your kindness and generosity; your skills and teaching will shorten the learning curve. (and the brilliant one's way with words is also appreciated.)
Warm regards,
Ian ~ 延安
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you Ian, I related your story to my parents last night and they were delighted! We repay all the kindness and good fortune we have enjoyed in life, including those awful experiences that turned out to be blessings in deep disguise, by passing on what we've learned to younger artists. It's a sacred duty.
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:iconiancaus2001:
Iancaus2001 Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2010
Thank you Jialu. I hope beijing is going well for you.
I got a DD, so now I have a good opportunity to carry out that sacred duty.
I hope the magazine editors like my work as much as 1400(so far) deviants appear to. I can't keep up with the replys.
warm regards to you and the brilliant-with-a-touch-of-tarnish-one. (rub gently with a soft cheek and he'll be glowing again.)
Ian.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Beijing has been busy, but the first show closes tomorrow and mostly I'm just happy to have finished the work in time to exhibit it.

Congratulations on the DD, Ian, your photo of the Li Jiang is simply gorgeous.

I've basically given up trying to reply to everyone, though I feel bad about it. The Tarnished One will glow again when he gets back into California sunshine but for now he will just have get through hanging these exhibitions.

Best wishes,

Jia.
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:iconmarqued-skin:
marqued-skin Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2010
Thank you so very much for sharing not only your wisdom, but some of your personal story also.

I always drew pictures for my mother. I was detail oriented, even as a small child. I also had to have the biggest box of crayons, because it held the greatest range of colours. If I didn't have a crayon in my hand, my mother knew I would be holding a book. It was just who I am.

These two loves came together in a contest at school. I was in the thrid grade and the book fair had arrived at my school. The principal announced that there would be a drawing contest for an advertisement for the fair. The first place winner for each grade would get a certain amount of books as the prize.

I had chosen to draw a hand that held a sheet of aged paper with an announcement speech (similar to the Gettysburg Address) telling all of the arrival of the fair (dates, times, etc.). I worked so very hard, using my hand as a reference. I had tried to give it depth with good shading. I tried to put as much details into that hand as I could-nails, crinkles in the skin, texture, perspective.

I "loved" that hand-more of me went into that piece than anything I'd ever done before. I won my choice of books. And when I look back, I know that drawing was the major shift for me becoming an artist.

Thank you again for your sharing and I hope that you have a great day.

~Jane
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
You've reminded me that not only have we a special moment when we decided to become artists, we all have a special piece of art that told us we were on our way. For me it was Palace Performer, because it was the first oil painting I tried after decades of painting in Chinese ink. I went from someone who dashed off a painting in an hour, to someone who took months over a single image. I wasn't certain I could do it until I was done, but it was worth it!
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:iconpepperw:
pepperw Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010
I've known I wanted to be an artist as long as I can remember. My dad was a commercial artist, but I think I wanted to be an artist before I really realized he was one. When I was five, I drew and colored a horse, but with only eight colors (I didn't know about mixing them at the time), I colored my horse with the red because that was closer to the horse I'd seen than was the brown, at least to me. The other kids said horses weren't red, but I still felt it looked more like the color of the chestnut horse I'd seen.
My father encouraged me and gave me much useful critique and I entertained my friends and family with my comics, stick figures at first, then more fleshed out images. In college, I drew pictures for sale to my friends and for display in juried art shows and contests.
Then I had an art teacher that told me I was a good draftsman, but lacked the creative energy and loose flow to ever make it far as a real artist. So I gave up for a long time. I still lack a lot of confidence in my work, but am trying again. Being on dA and getting the great feedback has been very helpful.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Compared to the desire of a student to succeed, the ability of a teacher to help or hinder is pretty minimal. But discouraging criticism can be devastating! There will always people who tell you, "you're not good enough." Even today I meet them in my career. But my reaction has always been "Not good enough? We'll see about that, just you wait!"
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:iconbear48:
bear48 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010  Professional
Because my learning disability this is very hard for me to do and I hope someone actually reads this.

I can not remember not being an artist. I am an Incest survivor and the survivor of an abusive childhood. When I was 5 I was hiding underneath a picnic table at a family event and I made a lot of decisions at that time. One of them was that I would make my living as an artist of some sort.

Barbarana is one of the first characters I can remember trying to draw. My stanch southern Baptist great grandmother and I spent long hours talking about her, the blue people, and Bang Bang.

The same great grandmother thought me about people like Edward Weston, Georgia Okeefe, Paul Gauguin, and Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse. She incouraged me when I went exploring on my own and found the work of artist Frazetta or Vicente Segrelles. She did not laugh at me when I tried to draw like them and use what I learned from them to tell my own story.

When I learned to express my feelings in my art she tried hard to heal me with the aid of my art.

When I was 8 I was trying to draw the centers of flowers on 24x36 inch paper so she bought me a large magnifying glass with feet so I could see better.

I sold my first painting when I was 15. I have been the art editor, illustrator, or photographer for several magazines and newspapers. I now am in television.


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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I think people are magnificent in how they can survive the most atrocious personal disasters and misfortunes, and with gentle guidance and love, turn it all into art, like a forest springing up after a wildfire. We can bring so many different experiences to our art in a way that other jobs just don't allow. Wonderful to meet you, Bear!
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:iconbear48:
bear48 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Professional
Very philological

:tighthug:
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:iconartizd:
artizd Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010   Traditional Artist
Great writing - very inspirational.

I've always liked art.
I remember when I was 5, I had drawn a horse, complete with a bridle, saddle and stirrups. What made me proud and happy was my mother's reaction to the drawing. She complimented me on how detailed I was. Being quite a critical person as she was, my art was the only way I could get even a bit of approval. By 10 I was a little girl who idolized Brooke Shields. I started drawing her likeness, and eventually, I branched out to portraits of a favorite soccer player, then Nick Rhodes of Duran-Duran to George Michael of Wham. I had not realized that I was honing my skills in portraiture and 'placement' of features etc.

At one point a relative said that I was not a creative artist, just someone who mimicked others -- and unfortunately took that to heart. I fought with myself, to be more creative and not just "copy" what I saw, but to no avail.

Of course, years of college, work and marriage intermingled with my dream of becoming an artist-- but I put the dream on hold, but still kept on sketching, drawing and reading art books...

Fast forward 25 years, now I realized how precious those early years had been for making me who I am today. I am still honing my skills, but at least, I've learned that I CAN be creative, even though what I draw or paint is somewhat a "copy" of the real thing...

I'll be looking forward to your next lesson. Thanks!

Dina.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
What you faced growing up is one of the tragedies the modernist canon perpetuates in the art world. Copying is an important and perfectly natural part of an artist's training, and in some cultures (like my own) imitation is a mark of respect and mastery. Entire schools of art have arisen based on students copying the work of their masters. Creativity and originality are valuable contributions of modernism to art, but they are not the be-all and end-all of art.
I'm so glad you haven't abandoned your dream, Dina, and will be joining us.
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:iconartizd:
artizd Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2010   Traditional Artist
Thank you for taking the time to reply. I understand and agree with your statement. I will keep on reading your posts. :hug:

Dina.
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Peachy-sunshine Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010
I have always been an artist, I have only called myself an artist for about 6 months since I had the confidence to recognise I might actually have some talent!

I actually just wanted to comment on your journal to say that your line 'our lives are the greatest work of art we'll ever create' is one of those inspirational lines that people write in their signatures and things! I wrote it in my diary to take with me all year...!
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
You certainly have talent, Claire, and a willingness to challenge yourself. Keep going!
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Peachy-sunshine Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2010
Thank you! I will not be stopping anytime soon!
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Elena-Ciolacu Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I've decide that I want to study arts about two years ago ... My works were not that great, but drawing was what I enjoy doing so I thought I have to do what I like in life and not to pursue financial wealth.
I was very confused for a very long time... I didn't know if I would be good enough in this domain, I didn't know what course of the Faculty of Arts to take up because I didn't know what's the specific of each of them (thus I ended at the wrong section for me and now I'm quitting in order to start again) and even now I don't know if I'll ever be a notable artist...

but I have recently read a paragraph in "Lust for Life" by Irving Stone which inspires me to go on and which has become basically my artistic belief... Vincent van Gogh was talking with his teacher about Rembrandt at a moment when Van Gogh was very confused about his own future:

" V.G.- what if in the end he [Rembrandt] would have been wrong and public repudiation of his works would have been justified?

TEACHER - what people thought of him had no importance for him. Rembrandt felt that he had to paint. whether he painted good or bad, it was the same to him; painting was the substance from which he molded his personality [...] Rembrandt followed what he knew was his calling, and this justified his existence. Even if his art would have been worthless, he still would have felt a thousand times more rewarded by life than being a rich merchant from Amsterdam. [...] the fact that today his art brings joy to the world means nothing to him [...] what mattered to him was the quality of his striving and devotion towards his ideal, and not the quality of his art.

V.G. - But how can one know if he has chosen the right path? he knows that he has a to do a certain thing in his life. But what if he later on discovers that that thing wasn't after all fitted for him?
[...]
TEACHER - you can never be certain of anything in life, Vincent. all you can do is have the courage and power to try what you think is best. it can come out bad in the end, but at least you know that you tried your best to achieve something, and this is what matters the most."

I translated the paragraph myself so it might have some mistakes but I think I got the essence of it... well this is what makes me want to continue improving and to keep drawing and painting.

I am eager to learn from you :heart:
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you, Laetitzia!
A desire for fame is certainly the wrong reason to take up fine art, or any other business for that matter. I think we live in a warped culture that worships fame and celebrity over substance and wisdom. Of course as artists we want to communicate with an audience, but our first responsibility is to ourselves. The road to success is blocked by countless obstacles, and only those who are convinced that there is nothing they would rather be doing are going to overcome them all. That's why I say the it's commitment that makes the artist, not the art you produce, and certainly not fickle public opinion.
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guang2222 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
My day came when I noticed my hands were always covered in graphite or paint. I crave my sketch book every day and keep it next to me when I'm at work. Before I wouldn't really tell any one about my love affair with art, I wasn't so confident about my skills.(self taught) I got a lot of support from my girlfriend who loves learning about art and that helped me so much. I currently work as a porter(how exciting) but things are look up. The people I work for have noticed my passion and have commissioned me to do two murals. Not a day goes by where I don't think about art and I never want that to change.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Yes, Juan, I would say you have been bitten and infected by the art bug. No cure, just feed it!
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Wolkenfels Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010
I always was a reader - i prefered books over films because of the pictures in my head were always better. At 20 i started to write stories. Nothing great but seeing how my own imagination could produce stories and pictures i didn't knew before was so fascinating. (every author has a story about his characters starting to have an own mind and doing things the author had not intended them to do... that moment is magical).
Last year i started with painting. It is more complicated than writing but also easier. More complicated because you have only one moment to show. But on the other hand people see the scene and can experience the picture so much better than reading it.
Technically i think it is more difficult to paint because i am just more experienced to use my language (my own at least) and use it every day.
Of course i am used to see - but not in the way it changes now that i have started to paint - and putting what you see into a picture is for someone who can't draw a straight line even trickier. :)
But it is very very satisfying and i enjoy it with all my heart.
One day i want to be able to paint what i see. Then i want to paint what i see in my imagination alone and maybe then there will also be the magical moment when the picture starts giving feedback to me.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I'm fascinated by the relationship between writing and image-making. At least the artist and writer must create worlds and fill them with characters, highlight some details and obscure others, and try to conjure an illusion of reality. I'm often frustrated by the stillness and silence of the canvas - I want my figures to change and move as they do in novels! It will be interesting to make comparisons between these similiar, yet different, narrative arts.
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:iconsraffa:
SRaffa Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Professional General Artist
I know some of your biography from your first book, from 2002-- it's a pleasure to refresh my memory of that here on your home page...
I'd worked as an illustrator before I ever considered myself an artist; I had one terrible year, though, where I found myself withdrawing not just from my work but from the world in general; there were only a few trusted friends back then, and I didn't talk to them as openly as I talk to my friends now. I went to my painting to vent the poison that had built up in me over a period of time; I painted something called Gardening At Night, and it carried me out of that joylessness, and made me remember things that I'd forgotten from my childhood-- things that were important to me, the way that life could be music instead of just obligations. That was the first time I'd really just painted for my own pleasure for many years, and I haven't stopped doing that since.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I remember my childhood vividly, right back to the age of about a year and a half. It was a golden tie that I have always wanted to return to. Perhaps I have never really left it. I think the terrible years are there to help us see ourselves more clearly.
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:iconsraffa:
SRaffa Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010  Professional General Artist
I think there's a kind of weariness that can overtake you if you forget how to play, how to just enjoy throwing paint around for it's own sake. Rediscovering that was key for me, and reconnecting with the times I'd pick up a box of crayons as a kid because it was more fun to do that than turn on the television set-- that was what I required. :nod:
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:iconbeccj:
beccj Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010   Digital Artist
Thank you very much for sharing your story, it's very inspirational. I never made a conscious decision with art. It was just an interest that took off in high school, where there was a half decent art class. I studied animation after graduation but dropped out because of family pressures, stress, and lack of confidence. I then did what I thought was the right thing and got a 'real job.' But I could never put art aside fully. I have always loved realism and portraiture, so over the last year I've been making baby steps to get back into it, and I have to say I'm never ever giving it up again. :D
I look forward to your future posts.
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I hope those baby steps turn into giant strides!
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Elfin-Grrl Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Your path is a beautiful one, I love it when you said by turning inward to my own vision I found myself in a landscape without paths, where I could roam as widely as I chose.
when you get to that point, then art has you, there's no going back is there!
I must have been about 4 or 5 when I was painting a little cat, from my favourite book at the time The Patchwork Quilt, and something happened during that process, it went from the usual playing with paint to actually 'creating', art gave something back. I don't remember much else from that age, but that always sticks clearly in my mind. From then on other people would call me the artist, so if I didn't already know what I wanted to do they did. Friends at primary school would ask me to draw their pictures for them in their workbooks, I would spend every spare moment with my sketchbook.
But you grow older, learn about 'life' and you have to choose a career, create a you. Everyone always tells you it's foolish to believe you can make a career from your art, but it already had me, from the age of 4, and by the time I was in my late teens / early 20s I had learned the true meaning of finding your own inner landscape of freedom, that broad endless road which leads wherever your heart will take it, so there was no leaving art behind, or demoting it to a hobbey. After leaving University I entered a piece of work into an exhibition, it was accepted and on the first day of the show it sold. That was the first moment of my dream in reality where I believed it could be possible to bring my inner landscape into the world that we call 'reality'.
And I'm never looking back! :heart:
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:iconjialu:
jialu Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
There are probably more career opportunities for artists today than at any other time in history. I keep telling parents that there's nothing foolish about making a career out of art: just look at the amount of media competing for our attention! Sometimes people forget that there are working artists behind all that imagery.
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:iconelfin-grrl:
Elfin-Grrl Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
This is very true! and thankfully creative vision is becoming more and more respected and valued. I think in a time where technology, 'progress', speed and mass produced socities dominate, people are now wanting to connect to something their hearts can feel more readily.
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